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Lord Astor of Hever moved Amendment No. 163B:


Page 86, line 33, at end insert--
("( ) Part IV shall not come into force until a period of no less than one year after regulations to be made under that Part have been published in draft by the Secretary of State for consultation.")

The noble Lord said: In moving the amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 163C.

Two weeks ago we debated Amendment No. 70A. We on these Benches and the insurance industry accept that the Government have made the provisions in Part IV of the Bill overriding in some cases. However, the Minister confirmed that Part IV will not on the whole be overriding. In this context, it is vital for the insurance industry to have clarification of the point encompassed by the amendment, which is intended to ensure that if the legislation is not wholly overriding trustees of pension schemes will need to be given adequate time to implement the detailed changes to be included in regulations.

The insurance industry is hoping that at least a year must be allowed between draft regulations being made available and the provisions of Part IV coming into force. The provisions on pension sharing contained in Clauses 23 to 47 are technically complicated. It will fall to pension scheme trustees to ensure that all the necessary changes are made to their schemes. Life insurance companies must be given sufficient time to make the substantial computer system and administrative changes which will be needed. This is a considerable burden. Trustees could be placed in the unenviable position of not being able to implement pension sharing orders because they have not had time to amend the scheme rules permitted, but facing a possible penalty from OPRA if they do not.

As the provisions will not be made wholly overriding, the insurance industry estimates that it will take at least one year, and perhaps realistically 18 months, from regulations being made assuming that it had had a few months prior to that to see proposals in draft to implement the necessary changes.

Will the Minister confirm that the insurance industry will be given at least a year in which to implement the detailed changes? I beg to move.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: I am happy that the noble Lord puts forward this probing amendment so that we can make our position clear to the industry.

The amendments are concerned with the timing of the introduction of the pension sharing Bill. The Government's thinking is very much in line with the spirit of the amendment, which I assume is essentially a probing amendment about the implementation date for pension sharing. I entirely agree with the noble Lord that it is extremely important to give the pensions industry and family lawyers adequate time to prepare for implementation. In fact we aim to give everyone about a year to prepare from the date on which the regulations--there will probably be over 100 of them; so it is a complicated matter--are laid. So assuming implementation by the end of the year 2000, we shall aim to consult on draft regulations this autumn and lay the regulations around the end of the year.

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That is our aim. It represents a challenging timetable. We recognise that it is important to allow practitioners adequate time to prepare for implementation. Before we make the final decisions on the precise start date for pension sharing we need to be aware of all the factors involved. On that basis, we believe that it would be unnecessarily restrictive to insert the proposed amendment into primary legislation.

I do not believe that there is a case for delaying the introduction of pension sharing. On the contrary, people outside are pressing us to speed the matter up. We are determined to see the project through. I am sure we shall have the support of the whole House in doing so. I hope that we shall have the implementation during the lifetime of this Parliament. Our aim certainly is to implement it by around the end of 2000 which would give the industry the year's approach that the noble Lord requested. In the light of what I have said, I hope that he will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

11.45 p.m.

Lord Astor of Hever: I thank the Minister for that reply. She is right that the amendment is a probing

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amendment. In the light of what she has said about the industry having at least a year, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 163C and 164 not moved.]

Clause 83, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 84 [Extent]:

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendments Nos. 165 to 170:


Page 87, line 3, after ("5") insert (", 62A to 62C")
Page 87, leave out line 5 and insert--
("(e) section 80(6) and (8).")
Page 87, line 10, after ("13") insert ("and 62D to 62F")
Page 87, line 25, leave out ("26,") and insert ("26(b),")
Page 87, line 38, after ("25") insert ("and 26(a)")
Page 88, line 5, leave out ("15,") and insert ("15C,")

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 84, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 85 agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

        House adjourned at thirteen minutes before midnight.


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